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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Can Untie the Cost Accountant Now.


Hyatt Place put in an automated check in process in the hotel I stayed at this week. I’ve been wondering when this development would come, and I can’t say that I’m disappointed in the least. I was down on the cost accountants earlier this week, but here’s one who worked with their service & brand teams for a successful result.

A service brand has to judge whether the introduction of self-service technology will reinforce the brand, be a net satisfier, and create improvements in service productivity.

It’s not for everyone. Imagine who guests at Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons would react if greeted by a robo-staff, ready to accept their credit cards and spit out an invoice confirmation and a room key.

But for a brand that caters primarily to business travelers on limited-duration stays, this seems like a no-brainer. When I travel for business, the hotel check-in process is not a value-added activity. I’m either dead tired, or know where I’m going and in a rush. The automated check-in was faster than counter check-in the first time I used it (major bonus points for improving company AND customer productivity on the 1st try), got me what I needed and off to my next activity.

Obviously, it won’t make sense for every hotel to adopt. Automated checkout is a staple in most grocery stores, but it might look out of place at Stew Leonard’s. Self-service technology can enable the service promise, so long as it is evaluated ensure brand compatibility and satisfaction improvement amongst the target consumer.

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